Damascus Way specializes in the critical transitions from incarceration, treatment, or other difficult life circumstances to a successful reintegration into society. Our ministry offers housing and mentorship to men on their recovery and reentry journeys. The services Damascus Way provide help these individuals obtain work or develop their career trajectory in addition to fostering health community connections and housing stability. 

Over the past several years, Damascus Way has focused attention on the value of creating pathways to housing and home ownership through an emphasis on programs and partners which could help our clients grow in financial literacy and the capacity to purchase their own property. Through support from MN Housing and Think Bank, among others, Damascus Way has been able to better serve and equip many of our residents for a successful return to their communities. Damascus Way integrates an evidence-based approach to these reentry services and the research indicates that our core service model is key in reducing recidivism. One of the risk factors associated with recidivism includes the multifaceted barriers to accessible and affordable housing. 

In recent weeks and months, and even well into last year, Damascus Way began to increase our collaboration with various banks and credit unions in order to assist residents in creating financial sustainability in their own lives. A prime example of this has been in helping residents open savings accounts, sometimes for the first time in their life. Organizations like Think Bank have partnered with Damascus Way to provide education and opportunities in this domain. Our reentry coordinators have also been essential in helping guide residents on the path to opening savings accounts. 

Let’s consider the testimony of a resident who, during his nearly six-month tenure at our program, was able to open and maintain a robust savings account with TruStone Credit Union. This resident was referred to TruStone by one of our very own reentry coordinators, who had a longstanding relationship with the credit union. The resident, who was appreciative of our team’s support and informative advice on the matter, spoke highly of his experience with TruStone, stating, “They treat me so well. Like I belong there! They’re the best way to go. It’s the perfect fit for me.” 

This resident shared about his experiences with TruStone and detailed the ways in which their policies and systems had worked well with where he is at in life and how he wants to manage his budget, car loan payments and future dreams. The resident was particularly enthusiastic about the future avenues that would become available through TruStone for his eventual aspiration of buying a trailer home for he and his sister to move in to. 

This testimony is just one example of many. Numerous other individuals have had the privilege of opening first time savings accounts, which are often a function of the individual goal plans that our reentry coordinators help men set when they first enter our program. These goals often include a long-term vision for home ownership, which starts with the simple, yet crucial step of building credit and savings. 

Damascus Way is incredibly grateful to the MAR Foundation (Minneapolis Area Realtors) for the support that they provided to us in 2022 to expand our working with housing capacity and we look forward to sharing more about the impact that their grants have had on our work!